The 2017 Peugeot 308 Active may seem suited to city buyers over those who live in the country, but its open-road performance is perhaps more competent than you might expect from a little three-pot.
The compact hatchback has proven itself as being a great partner for the urban grind, but for this part of our long-term test we’re focusing on the Peugeot’s abilities on the open road.
We had no real issues with the engine and gearbox in the Peugeot 308 around town, with the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine (with 96kW and 230Nm) offering solid performance – and the same can be said of the drivetrain when you’re cruising on the freeway.
The most surprising aspect is the engine is barely audible at 100km/h or 110km/h, and if you suddenly prod the throttle to overtake, its six-speed automatic gearbox is quick thinking enough to rapidly drop a cog or two and thrust you along. It is easily peppy enough for these sorts of moves, even with four adults and luggage on board.
The 308's engine purrs along at highway speeds at about 2200rpm, and while it can be a bit rumbly when you’re getting up to speed, it settles into a nice rhythm at pace and, as with the noise, there’s not much vibration.
Wind and road noise is also well insulated – even on coarse-chip surfaces with some speed on board there’s not too much of a cacophony. It is one of the quieter small hatchbacks I’ve tested, that’s for sure.
With a suspension tune that feels like it has been set up to deal with cobblestone back streets in major European cities, I expected the suspension of the 308 to fall down somewhat at higher speeds. But in actual fact, the softness of the suspension dampers made it quite supple over pockmarked country roads.
It isn’t as tied down as some competitors with tighter suspension tunes, and the body moves around more as a result – but never does it feel clumsy or too wobbly, keeping occupants comfortable (apart from hot days, where the lack of rear vents can be an issue).
The steering on the highway is just as nippy and responsive as it is around town, meaning there’s very little effort required for lane changes, and keeping the car on the straight-ahead is a cinch, too, given its steady weighting.
The issue could be fuel use: while it was a bit thirstier than we’d expected around town, it also didn’t offer quite the drop in fuel use we’d hoped for during our highway-intensive test routes.
Indeed, we saw fuel use of 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres on the open road, which isn’t great considering the claim is a diesel-like 4.4L/100km for extra-urban driving. At least the tank isn’t as small as some competitors, with 53 litres of capacity meaning you could, theoretically, do 750km on a fill. It needs 95 RON premium fuel – so keep that in mind.
If you’re doing big distance, the seats will support you well. There’s good adjustability for different drivers, and there’s lumbar support for both front seats.
We could do with better headlights: the halogen units in this spec aren’t terrific on the highway at night – we’ve seen worse, sure, but a set of xenons or LEDs would likely be even better.
And for potential buyers who live in less densely populated areas, there are dealerships and service centres in rural centres like Orange, Wagga, Albury Tamworth, Armidale, Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Townsville, among others.
As was the case for our city testing, the 2017 Peugeot 308 Active proved comfortable and cruisey, not to mention easy to live with. If its fuel use were a little better, it’d be great for this type of stuff. Maybe I just need to learn to drive slower.
MORE: 308 Active long-term report one – introduction
MORE: 308 Active long-term report two – infotainment
MORE: 308 Active long-term report three – interior
MORE: 308 Active long-term report four – urban driving